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European residents who are covered by a social security scheme in their country of residence are entitled to a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC). The card simplifies the procedure when receiving unforeseen medical assistance during their visit to a member state. It should be carried when travelling within the European Economic Area, (i.e. the European Union, Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein) and Switzerland. Each person travelling should have their own card.
The EHIC entitles the holder to the same treatment at the same cost as a national of that country. For example, if medical care is provided free of charge in the member state where treatment is required, the claimant will be entitled to free medical care on presentation of the card or an equivalent document.
Presentation of the EHIC guarantees reimbursement of the medical costs on the spot, or soon after returning home.
The card is only valid for state provided services and not private hospitals or treatments.
Residents of new member countries may not be able to use their EHIC in certain countries, including Switzerland. It is suggested that residents of countries that have recently joined the EU verify this with the social security administration in the country of residence prior to travel.
Note: Third-country nationals (from outside the EU/EEA) resident in the EU and holding an EHIC cannot use their EHIC in Norway, Liechtenstein or Switzerland. In Iceland, non EU/EEA nationals are only covered for emergency treatment. Holders of an EHIC in Denmark will only be eligible for free treatment in a public hospital in the event of:
As of 1 May 2010, the responsibility of issuing the EHIC is no longer with a person's state of residence, but with the state where a person is paying to or benefiting from the social security system. This affects people receiving pensions from their EU home country rather than their country of residency. For example, a resident of Cyprus receiving a pension in the UK should now apply for the EHIC in the UK.
The only personal information on the EHIC is the card holder's surname and first name, personal identification number and date of birth. The European health insurance card does not contain medical data. The card contains the same information in all countries where it is issued.
The duration of validity of the card varies from country to country.
The European Health Insurance Card replaces forms previously used within the EU:
Note: The forms E111 (and others) have not been valid since 31 December 2005.
Those paying into or benefiting from the Cypriot social security system can obtain an EHIC by submitting a completed application and supporting documents to the nearest hospital or the Ministry of Health. Cards are free of charge.
Charges differ from country to country. In some countries, treatment is provided at full cost with reimbursement for a percentage available later, while in others only the actual costs that would be incurred by a resident of that country are charged up front.
The European Commission (Directorate General Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion) has developed a useful multi-language smartphone application which gives details of how to use the EHIC in different countries within the EU. It summarises the treatments, costs, procedure for reimbursement and emergency numbers.